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Emily Reed is one of two girls playing on the Coast Union High School football team this year. Valley Christian Academy in Santa Maria chose to drop their game against the Broncos rather than face a team made up of female players.

The Valley Christian Academy Lions football team – a small private school in the central coast town of Santa Maria – is once again refusing to play girls.

This is despite the fact that it is becoming increasingly common for girls to play soccer, especially in California.

And that’s despite the fact that VCA is already facing a lawsuit because he refused to play against the Cuyama High soccer team last year. This team included a female recipient whose mother filed a complaint.

Now VCA, which is affiliated with the First Baptist Church, could face even more backlash for losing an upcoming game against Coast Union High, a public high school in Cambria where two girls are on the football team.

The reason for the boycott?

The school administration says playing soccer with girls is against “the guiding principles of the Bible regarding the care of a woman”, according to a legal document filed in the Cuyama case.

It’s a terribly vague and flimsy excuse at a time when more and more women are taking part in traditionally male jobs, including fighting alongside men in the military.

So is it really about religion – or is it just gender discrimination?

“We don’t raise our daughters to be ‘fighters'”

For the record, while once an oddity that inspired after-school specials, it’s now perfectly legal for girls to play on men’s soccer teams and it’s increasingly accepted – but not so much in some circles. conservative Christians.

“We don’t raise our daughters to be ‘fighters’ the same way we raise our sons,” Nancy Wilson wrote in an article posted on the Christian website Reformed Perspective. “The goal we have in mind in raising sons is to instill masculinity. And we want our daughters to embrace divine femininity, not worldly feminism.

But as far as the US government is concerned, girls have the right to play whatever sport they choose, no matter what the Bible says.

Title IX – the federal law that prohibits sex discrimination in schools – specifies that girls are allowed to play for a boys’ team if a girls’ team in that particular sport is not offered.

The California Interscholastic Federal also states this in its bylaws: “Whenever the school provides only one or more boys’ teams in a particular sport, girls are permitted to qualify for the boys’ team or teams. students.”

In the lawsuit in the Cuyama case, Valley Christian Academy argued that because it is a private religious school, it is not subject to Title IX rules.

However, if a school receives federal funding, they are not allowed to apply for an exemption.

And guess what? In a recent decision, a federal judge found that Valley Christian Academy did receive federal funding, in the form of a Paycheck Protection Program loan issued during the COVID-19 pandemic. The judge therefore decided that the case could go to trial.

The player was “humiliated, embarrassed and shocked”

Ironically, Valley Christian fought against Cuyama High last year, which apparently went well until the player took off her helmet at the end of the match.

“Upon seeing her gender, observers, coaches and administrators at Valley Christian stared at (the player) while shaking their heads in disbelief,” according to a court filing.

A few days later, the superintendent of Cuyama High received a letter stating that the player – whose identity has not been disclosed – would no longer be welcome to play football on the Valley Christian campus.

The player was left “humiliated, embarrassed and shocked by the public display of adverse reactions”, according to the filing.

Of course she was. One minute she’s being treated like an equal on the playground. The next she’s being treated like an outcast who should trade in her helmet and pads for a spoon and apron?

Certainly, church members are entitled to their beliefs.

But if they are so indebted to them, why would they want to play in a league with rules that go against those beliefs?

And why would the CIF allow a team to stay in a league when it so blatantly discriminates against players who have every right to be on the pitch?

After all, it’s a conflict that is unlikely to go away, not until more and more girls are interested in football.

Fortunately, there is a simple solution that can be achieved outside of the courtroom.

Either the Valley Christian Academy Lions agree to play – whether or not the girls are on the opposing team – or they drop out of the league.

If they don’t step aside, CIF can show them the door.

This story was originally published August 27, 2022 5:00 a.m.

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